Residential burglaries have become commonplace, but there are ways to avoid becoming a victim. According to law enforcement officials, burglaries are crimes of opportunity and crimes that can sometimes be prevented.
Jimmy Edwards, chief deputy for the Union County Sheriff’s Department, and Chris Robertson, Criminal Investigator for the New Albany Police Department, both offer preventable ways to deter a burglar from entering your home.
Both agree about specific steps that can be taken if a resident plans to be on vacation or plans to leave their home for an extended period of time.
Edwards said, “If they are going to be gone, they can ask for an officer to patrol by the house, they can have someone pick up their mail, and let the neighbors know they are going to be gone. Don’t advertise that you are going on vacation. Don’t let paper stack up. Leave a light on or a TV on at night. Be sure to leave a key for someone to check on the house.”
Robertson agreed and said, “It would be good for someone to pick up the mail when they are going to be gone from the home for an extended period of time and to have someone check in the house to make sure everything is in good working order.”
Another tip is to not let a stranger inside the home. Edwards suggests to not give out your Social Security Number in person or over the phone, especially to a stranger. If you encounter a stranger, make sure that if the stranger says that he or she is with a company, make sure it is a reputable and known company first. One situation that he has dealt with are people claiming to be meat salesmen and sometimes that is a scam. He suggests to write down the license plate number of any strange vehicle and call the police or sheriff’s department and let them know of that number.
Roberston said, “Be careful who you let in or near your home. Anytime anyone sees someone suspicious, call NAPD – we have the personnel to handle it.”
He added, “One good way to deter burglars is to improve the exterior of the home. One way to do that is to increase the lighting and visibility of the house. Leaving the porch light on at night is good, installing motion sensor lights, and other ways that would increase lighting. It makes it tougher for someone to break in. Landscaping is good too, especially keeping the hedges trimmed. Plant holly bushes or rose bushes next to the house and keep them trimmed underneath the windowsill.”
Roberston also suggested to make sure that all exterior doors are solid wood doors instead of hollow doors, preferably oak or hickory, have deadbolt locks on doors, and make sure windows are locked and that they are quality storm windows.
In case a break-in occurs, Edwards and Robertson recommend for residents to videotape, photograph, and write down the contents of their home, especially the valuables. All serial numbers need to be included in the information, especially on valuables, including firearms. Give detailed descriptions also. Valuables may include jewelry, video game consoles, computers, electronics, etc.
Robertson said, “The quicker we can get involved, the quicker we can help.”
Edwards said, “If you are in danger, dial 9-1-1. You have a right to protect your home or property. Try to get descriptions of the vehicle, tag number, people in the vehicle, direction they are traveling, etc. All of these clues will help an officer track down the perpetrator.”
Robertson said, “We realize that bad things happen to good people. Use common sense, lock your doors, turn lights on, be vigilant in your house, be aware of your surroundings, look for something out of the ordinary.
The number to the Union County Sheriff’s Department is 662-534-1943, the number for the New Albany Police Department is 662-534-2222, and for an emergency, dial 9-1-1. If your phone service is cut off, you can still dial 9-1-1.